After I heard of Osama bin Laden's death this morning, my first reaction was to shrug and ask, "So?" I was extremely surprised to find that overnight there were massive gatherings in the streets outside the White House and on college campuses to cheer about it. It was an embarrassing display of what passes for patriotism.
This, of course, changes nothing. Osama bin Laden is dead, but Americans still have to live with his legacy.
We still need to be patted down at airports by government agents. The government still tracks our every financial transaction. We still have security checkpoints inside our borders. Warrantless wiretaps still exist in the United States. Our government still detains people without trial or charge. And worst of all, we're still caught up in expensive open-ended wars which guarantee that our list of enemies will continue to grow. These things have become a permanent part of our lives as Americans- supposedly the most free people on earth.
In short, I don't have time for symbolic victories, no matter what the magnitude. Give me a call when something happens that's worth celebrating. In the meantime, it's the beginning of May, which means we're officially one third into 2011. Since about a third of my income goes straight out the door in taxes, I figure that the four months out of the year I have to spend working to fund the government is behind me now. Perhaps this is a day worth celebrating after all.